Here we are, kittens, at the close of our CrAzY aDvEnTuRe. What a wild ride it’s been. Here’s what we’ve learned so far, I think: windmills are difficult to build. Sheep are the least literate farm animal. Socialism has laudable ideals, but the working class must continually unseat the ruling class or else violent autocracies will suppress any real hope of freedom. Pigs are mean. And lastly, sugar cubes and ribbons = cute. Let’s go!
Years have passed (hate it when that happens). Most of our faves are dead now, except for Clover and Benjamin the Donkey, who are getting pretty old. However, no animals have ever gotten to retire. Nobody remembers Snowball, or the revolution, and only a few remember Boxer. Napoleon and Squealer have both grown up to be pretty, um, hefty.
Sometimes animals are brought in from other farms, but they generally aren’t the sharpest tools in the box. The windmill has been finished, but it’s used to mill corn (which = $$$), instead of used to heat stalls or make the animals lives easier. The many pigs and dogs on the farm are chubby and happy and never seem to do much work, even though Squealer, with a cheeseburger in each hoof, explains that they are actually really busy writing things called ‘reports’ and ‘papers,” which they have to cover with lots of tiny words and then burn (we’ve all been there). The farm, overall, seems more prosperous than ever, but the animals on the farm live life the way it’s always been: they are generally hungry, they work a lot, in winter they’re cold, and in the summer there are flies.
But most importantly—they live on Animal Farm! The greatest farm to ever farm! The only one, anywhere, owned and operated by animals! Fresh, local, artisan, organic…FARM PARTY TIME!
Then one day, Squealer leads all the sheep to work in a distant field. They stay there for a week. Squealer says he’s teaching them a new song. At the end of the week, the animals are walking back to the barn when they hear Clover scream. They see a terrifying sight: Squealer, walking on two legs! In fact, all the pigs are walking on two legs— and worst of all, Napoleon carries a whip.
Just as all the animals are about to finally break into protest—because honestly, this is horrific—the sheep start bleating their new jam: “Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”
At the same time, Clover and Benjamin notice that on the wall of the barn, the commandments have been changed. In fact, there’s just one commandment now, in huge letters, and I bet you’ve heard it before:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.
After this, the pigs start doing all sorts of human stuff, like buyingmagazines, wearing clothes, and binge-watching Pretty Little Liars. This is a bad sign, I’m pretty sure.
A few days later, the pigs invite some humans, including neighbor Mr. Pilkington, over for drinks and card games. All the animals creep up to the house and spy through the window. The humans tell the pigs that they are impressed: the pigs just sooooo good at running the farm. They have their animals working harder, and for less food, than any of the animals on their own farms. Pilkington then handily sums up Orwell’s metaphor: “If you have your lower animals to contend with, we have our lower classes!”
Basically the tagline of the book here, folks. Animals = lower classes.
Napoleon thanks the farmer for his nice words, and then tells them that there will be some changes. They won’t call one another Comrade anymore. They won’t have a flag with a horn and hoof on it. They will no longer honor Old Major. And, record scratch: Animal Farm will change its name…to Manor Farm.
As the humans and pigs talk, the rest of the animals, watching through the window, slowly come to a final, disturbing realization: they can’t tell which are the pigs and which are the humans. Just as the communist leaders turned out to resemble the tsars and emperors, the pigs have turned out just like Farmer Jones.
And that’s it, tadpoles. I mean, we all saw this coming—you’re supposed to, after all, it’s based on a true story—but it’s still pretty chilling. Some questions to ponder as we try to recover / make a scrapbook depicting all the good times we had with Benjamin the Donkey: What sneaky sneakeries did Snowball and Napoleon use to rise to power? It’s easy to walk away from this book thinking, “Snowball should have been in charge instead.” Question that impulse: would it really have been better? Is that what Orwell wanted? Why is this book presented as a fairy tale? What would be lost if Orwell just wrote a straight-up essay?
Y’all did good. You held it together as the very fabric of society was disintegrating. High five.
And now, a final balm for our weary souls, so that we may not live out our lives resenting pigs: